HATEM ABD ELHAMED believes Celtic are on the cusp of something special and they can emphasise their qualities against Lazio in the Olympic Stadium on Thursday night.

The experienced Israeli international right-back is poised to return to the Hoops’ defence for the crucial Europa League Group E encounter against the Serie A side in Rome.

Dutch teenage sensation Jeremie Frimpong replaced the 28-year-old former Hapeol Be’er Sheva defender for the Premiership game against Aberdeen at Pittodrie only three days after Elhamed had played in the 2-1 victory over the Italians in Glasgow.

Austrian Moritz Bauer then took over at No.2 for the visit of St Mirren as the Hoops racked up a 2-0 victory and Frimpong was back in place for the 5-2 Betfred League Cup semi-final success over Hibs at Hampden on Saturday night.

However, it is likely boss Neil Lennon will look to the experience of Elhamed against Simone Inzaghi’s side on this occasion.

Lazio held the lead at Parkhead until Ryan Christie swept in the equaliser and Christopher Jullien picked the ideal time to score his first goal for the club as he soared high to bullet in a header in the last minute.

Elhamed, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “After what happened in Glasgow, for sure they want to beat us. But I think we are a very good team and we go there to get a good result.

“We have confidence. We feel that now we are a great team. If we win there, we will believe in ourselves even more. It could really be the beginning of something.

“Getting a point in Rennes gave us good confidence for the next game. We have won two games since then.

“I’m happy that we are top of this group and doing very well. I hope on Thursday we come back with a good result.

“I think we are a very good team and we want to continue showing this.

“We should show what we show in every game and in every competition. I hope it will be okay.

“I’ve never played in Italy, so it will be a new experience, but one that will be good.

“These things are good as an individual, but I go with Celtic and we want to do a good job there as a team.”


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